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[U] Commonwealth v. Snyder

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

February 11, 2014



Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence entered on October 19, 2012 in the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County, Criminal Division, No. CP-09-CR-0003447-2012




Reginald B. Snyder ("Snyder"), pro se, appeals from the judgment of sentence imposed for his conviction of harassment. See 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 2709(a)(1). We affirm.

The trial court set forth the relevant underlying facts:
On February 29, 2012[, ] at 1:17 P.M., Officer Lawrence Fallon responded to 2672 Bristol Road, Warrington Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania for a report of a man on a scaffolding near PECO wires. [N.T., 10/19/12, at 5-6.] Upon arrival, Officer Fallon observed [Snyder's] son, Daniel Snyder[, ] standing on the scaffolding and manipulating the wires. [Id. at 6-7.] [Snyder] was standing at the base of the scaffolding and stated that his son was reconnecting the electrical power to their house. [Id. at 7.] Officer Fallon ordered Daniel Snyder to come down and placed him under arrest. [Id. at 8] While escorting Daniel Snyder to a police car, Officer Fallon ordered [Snyder], who attempted to follow them, "[d]on't follow us, stay on your property." [Id.] [Snyder] returned to his house. [Id.]
Daniel Snyder was passively resisting arrest by refusing to stand on his feet. [Id. at 9.] While Officer Fallon and a back-up, Officer Gottenberg, were struggling to put him into a police SUV, [Snyder] returned at a quick pace with a silver object in his hand. [Id.] Officer Fallon ran around the patrol car, ordered [Snyder] back onto his property, and observed him slip the silver object into his pocket. [Id. at 10.] Officer Fallon approached [Snyder] and ordered him to return to his property, but [Snyder] used both hands to push him in the chest, forcing Officer Fallon backward. [Id.] Officer Fallon said, "[y]ou are under arrest, " grabbed [Snyder's] arm, and was again pushed back by [Snyder] to prevent the officer from grabbing his arm. [Id.] Officer Gottenberg attempted to pin [Snyder] against a vehicle in order to apply handcuffs, but [Snyder] continued to struggle, and was escorted to the ground where he continued to struggling with both officers for approximately one (1) minute until he was handcuffed. [Id. at 10-11.]
[Snyder] was charged with Resisting Arrest, Harassment, Obstructing Administration of Law, and Disorderly Conduct.[1] On October 19, 2012, the Commonwealth sought leave to nol pros Resisting Arrest and Obstructing Administrative of Law and to amend Disorderly Conduct from a misdemeanor of the third degree to a summary offense, which [the trial court] granted. [Snyder] was therefore charged with Harassment and Disorderly Conduct, which were both graded as summary offenses[.]
[On October 19, 2012, the trial court] found [Snyder] guilty of Harassment and not guilty of Disorderly Conduct. On Harassment, [the trial court] imposed a non-reporting period of probation of ninety (90) days and a three hundred (300) dollar fine.

Trial Court Opinion, 1/28/13, at 1-2 (citations and footnotes omitted, footnote added).

On November 5, 2012, Snyder filed an untimely post-sentence Motion, claiming that his sentence was excessive. Before the trial court took any action on the Motion, Snyder filed a Notice of appeal on November 16, 2012. Thereafter, the trial court ordered Snyder to file a Pennsylvania Rule of Appellate Procedure 1925(b) concise statement. Snyder failed to file a concise statement.

On appeal, Snyder raises the following questions for our review:
1. Do four not guilty verdicts in Commonwealth v. Daniel Snyder negate probable cause in the Commonwealth's case against [] Snyder?
2. Does an assumption without subsequent police investigation and without corroborating evidence from a neutral party that a crime is in progress constitute enough evidence in a sworn affidavit to show probable cause?
3. If a judge has knowledge that a witness has lied in an attempt to make up a charge in a related case[, ] should the judge trust this witness'[s] testimony and disregard testimony from two witnesses not known to be liars?
4. If a judge can be seen making an attempt at leading a witness[, ] does this express that the judge has a vested interest in the outcome?
5. Does Judge [Albert] Cepparulo imposing the maximum penalty without a sentencing hearing constitute double jeopardy?
6. Does the Bucks County D.A.'s refiling the charge of aggravated assault constitute double jeopardy?
7. If the police arrest someone on a charge that has already been dropped by the Magistrate at a preliminary hearing[, ] is it a false arrest?
8. Do the actions of Officer Fallon on February 29, 2012[, ] constitute an assault on [] Snyder?

Brief for Appellant at 8.

Initially, we note that "in order to preserve their claims for appellate review, [a]ppellants must comply whenever the trial court orders them to file a Statement of Matters Complained of on Appeal pursuant to Pa.R.A.P. 1925. Any issues not raised in a Pa.R.A.P. 1925(b) statement will be deemed waived." Commonwealth v. Castillo, 888 A.2d 775, 780 (Pa. 2005) (citation omitted); see also Pa.R.A.P. 1925(b). Here, the trial court ordered Snyder to file a Rule 1925(b) concise statement. See Order, 11/30/12. Snyder failed to file a concise statement; thus, Snyder's claims on appeal are waived. See Castillo, 888 A.2d at 780.

However, even if Snyder properly preserved his claims, we would conclude that they are without merit.[2] Snyder contends that the evidence was insufficient to support his harassment conviction. Brief for Appellant at 16-18. Snyder argues that there was no credible evidence demonstrating that he pushed Officer Fallon. Id. at 17. Snyder alternatively argues that he was acting in self-defense when he shoved Officer Fallon. Id. at 16, 18.

The standard we apply in reviewing sufficiency of the evidence claims is as follows:

[W]e consider the evidence in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth as verdict winner. In that light, we decide if the evidence and all reasonable inferences from that evidence are sufficient to establish the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. We keep in mind that it was for the trier of fact to determine the weight of the evidence and the credibility of witnesses. The [fact-finder] was free to believe all, part or none of the evidence. This Court may not weigh the evidence or substitute its judgment [f]or that of the fact-finder.

Commonwealth v. West, 937 A.2d 516, 523 (Pa.Super. 2007) (citation omitted).

"A person commits the crime of harassment when, with intent to harass, annoy or alarm another, the person … strikes, shoves, kicks or otherwise subjects the other person to physical contact, or attempts or threatens to do the same[.]" 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 2709(a)(1).

Here, Officer Fallon testified that Snyder put both hands on his chest and shoved him. N.T., 10/19/12, at 10. After Officer Fallon attempted to arrest Snyder for shoving him, Snyder shoved him again. Id. The trial court found Officer Fallon's testimony to be credible. Id. at 37. Snyder has not pointed to any evidence demonstrating that he acted in self-defense. Thus, the credible evidence demonstrated that Snyder intended to harass, annoy, or alarm Officer Fallon by purposefully shoving him. See Commonwealth v. Bennett, 827 A.2d 469, 480 (Pa.Super. 2003) (concluding that appellant's shoving of a police officer was sufficient to find that the appellant intended to harass, annoy, or alarm the officer); see also West, 937 A.2d at 523 (stating that the fact-finder is free to believe all, part, or none of the evidence presented).

Snyder also contends that the officers did not have probable cause to arrest him without a warrant. Brief for Appellant at 14-17. Snyder specifically argues that because Daniel Snyder was found not guilty of all of the charges against him, Snyder's arrest had no legal basis. Id. at 15-16.

Here, the credible evidence demonstrated that the officers placed Snyder under arrest after he had pushed Officer Fallon. As such, the facts are sufficient to give rise to the probable cause necessary to support the arrest for harassment. See Bennett, 827 A.2d at 479-80 (concluding that the police had probable cause to effectuate a warrantless arrest where the defendant shoved the police officer). Thus, Snyder's claim that the arrest was unlawful is without merit.

Snyder additionally argues that the trial court imposed an excessive sentence. Brief for Appellant at 15. Snyder asserts that the trial court did not account for his health concerns in imposing the sentence. Id.

Snyder challenges the discretionary aspects of his sentence.

An appellant challenging the discretionary aspects of his sentence must invoke this Court's jurisdiction by satisfying a four-part test:
[W]e conduct a four-part analysis to determine: (1) whether appellant has filed a timely notice of appeal, see Pa.R.A.P. 902 and 903; (2) whether the issue was properly preserved at sentencing or in a motion to reconsider and modify sentence, see Pa.R.Crim.P. [720]; (3) whether appellant's brief has a fatal defect, Pa.R.A.P. 2119(f); and (4) whether there is a substantial question that the sentence appealed from is not appropriate under the Sentencing Code, 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 9781(b).

Commonwealth v. Moury, 992 A.2d 162, 170 (Pa.Super. 2010) (some citations omitted).

Here, Snyder failed to properly preserve his claim at sentencing or in a post-sentence motion and failed to raise a substantial question. See Commonwealth v. Rhoades, 8 A.3d 912, 918-19 (Pa.Super. 2010) (stating that "an allegation that the sentencing court failed to consider mitigating factors generally does not raise a substantial question for our review."); Commonwealth v. Oree, 911 A.2d 169, 172 (Pa.Super. 2006) (holding that discretionary aspects of sentencing claims must be raised at sentencing or in a post-sentence motion in order to be preserved). Thus, even if Snyder had presented this claim in a Rule 1925(b) concise statement, we would not review Snyder's sentencing claim.[3]

Judgment of sentence affirmed.

Judgment Entered.

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